Look Through a Telescope

Look Through a Telescope

Modern technology has given all of us a chance to look through a telescope and see what is in outer space. In the “old days” the only people that could look outside our solar system were astronomers who had access to powerful telescopes. Now all of us can look out and see what lies beyond our solar system without buying a telescope because the pictures are available to us on the web. If you go to apod.nasa.gov you can see pictures taken through the world’s largest telescopes. The picture for August 7, 2020, is of the Pipe Nebula. As I stare at the picture, I am awestruck by the number of stars in the cosmos.

Why are there so many? Why is the cosmos so big? If you believe that God created it all, why did He create billions of stars in billions of galaxies? If Earth is the only place with life, why are there other planets, other stars, other solar systems? Why is space full of matter like the Pipe Nebula? Obviously no one knows the answers to all these questions. Anyone who gives a dogmatic answer that invalidates the existence of God is claiming to have more knowledge than the rest of us. Those who claim the pictures are fakes or artistic works have not taken the trouble to go to an observatory and look through a telescope. Most observatories have arrangements that allow the general public to do that. We have no excuse for doubting the credibility of the pictures.

Whether you are an atheist or a religious fundamentalist, your viewpoint makes massive assumptions. Here are a few things you should know, that may make you uncomfortable:

No observation made has ever challenged the basic biblical claim that there was a beginning and that it was caused. You can argue about what the cause was, but attempting to deny that there was a beginning, puts you at odds with the observations and the laws of physics–even at a quantum level.

There is no support for the assumption that planet Earth is the only place in the universe where life exists. If there is life elsewhere, God created it, and the Bible does not say the Earth is the only place where God created life. However, the distances are so huge that we will never know if this is the only place–at least not in our lifetimes. Many years ago, I debated an atheist on a talk show with Larry King. A listener called in and asked the atheist and me “What would you two do if a space ship landed in plain sight and a little green man got out and asked, ‘Has Jesus been here yet?’” That raises all kinds of issues, but it makes the point. By the way, the atheist’s answer was, “Punt.”

As we look through a telescope we are looking into the distant past light-years ago. No one knows what the distant future holds. Could it be that God wants humans to colonize the cosmos? Perhaps our vision of God’s kingdom is too small. Every time I look at one of those pictures of star fields or look through a telescope, I am reminded of Psalms 8:3-4 “When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you have ordained: What is man, that you are mindful of him?”

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Butterfly Wings and Rain

Butterfly Wings and Rain

Look around the world of living things, and you will see a system that has been carefully designed. Not only the system, but the individual life-forms could not exist without careful engineering. Countless problems had to be anticipated and solved in the creation process, and one of those involves butterfly wings and rain.

One of my favorite memories of my wife Phyllis, before she passed away, was the last trip, which included a visit to a butterfly house. I went through the screened-in house in 20 minutes and waited outside for Phyllis to join me. After waiting for what seemed like a long time, I went back in to find her. She was sitting on a large rock, literally covered with butterflies. As they fluttered around, they kept landing on her. An attendant came up to me and asked me if my wife was diabetic. When I said she was, the attendant said, “That explains it. Her blood sugar must be high.” Later my wife described the sensation of delicate wings dancing all over her head and arms. She was afraid to move for fear of injuring those delicate wings.

That raised the question in my mind about butterfly wings and rain. How could something so delicate survive a heavy rainstorm? Recently, Cornell University posted an article addressing that question. Butterfly wings have tiny bumps that break up incoming drops of water into small droplets that don’t damage the wings. In addition to that, the wings have a water-resistant wax coating, so the droplets slide off, making the wings essentially dry, even in the rain.

Similar features to what we see in the design of butterfly wings also occur in other living things such as plant leaves and feathers. Those features must have been present from the very beginning of the existence of those life-forms. Otherwise, they would never have survived to produce offspring and pass on the genetic information.

Romans 1:20 tells us that we can know there is a God through the things He has made. The design of butterfly wings and rain is one more example of how we can build our faith as we see God’s creative wisdom.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Spreading Life Throughout the Earth

Spreading Life Throughout the Earth - Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

An amazing fact is that the creation is designed for continually spreading life throughout the Earth. That isn’t always a good thing for humans.

Several years ago, a friend of mine built a large pond on his farm. He planned to stock the pond with desirable fish, avoiding carp and sunfish, which he considered to be trash fish. He stocked it with largemouth bass, and some minnows used as food for the bass. Later, when I was visiting him, I decided to do a little fishing in his pond. The first fish I caught was a large carp, and a whole school of sunfish converged on a grasshopper or worm I used as bait.

My friend was horrified and promptly wanted to accuse an enemy of putting trash fish in his pond. I noticed a great blue heron wading through the shallows of the pond picking off minnows, and immediately I knew how the sunfish got there. Herons wade through areas where fish have built nests of eggs during their spawn. The eggs are sticky and adhere to the Heron’s legs. When the Heron goes to another pond, it carries the fish eggs along.

Recent research has discovered another way in which fish are designed to spread from place to place. A study in Hungary has shown that some fish eggs can pass through the digestive system of a duck, and a small percentage of the eggs have baby fish still alive inside.

The wisdom of this system in the natural world is apparent. A new body of water will usually be sterile. To get a functional ecological system going, the bottom of the food chain must be established quickly. Birds are facilitators in getting a fish population in operation, and now we know of at least two ways they do it.

The implications for humans are significant. Biologists trying to keep a species of carp out of the Great Lakes have a huge problem. The design of fish and birds makes it almost impossible to keep any fish population isolated. God has created many designs for spreading life throughout the Earth, even into sterile places.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Reference: Science News, August 1, 2020 page 13.

Pandemic Pods and Education

Pandemic Pods and Education

Home Schooling has expanded dramatically as public schools struggle with how to open in the face of the pandemic and the difficulties of online classes. Now parents are organizing into “pandemic pods” where they form groups of five to ten children and hire a teacher for that group.

For working parents, this may seem to be an answer to the school situation.
The problem is that only families with enough money to hire a good teacher will be able to form these pandemic pods. This sends us back to a segregation issue. Families who join together are likely to be families with similar social backgrounds. This arrangement excludes families living in poverty.

As a public school science teacher in South Bend, Indiana, I saw firsthand another issue that should be considered. I would see students transferred during the school year from a nearby large Catholic high school to Riley High School, where I taught. These were always kids who were discipline problems. One of my friends who taught at the Catholic school told me that their ultimate threat was, “If you don’t behave, we’ll send you to Riley.”

We must remember that these are kids who need an education. Virtual learning and online classes work for highly-motivated students who want to cooperate. What about the kid who is not motivated, has a bad family situation, doesn’t want to be in school at all, and is poor? The coronavirus has given people another excuse to separate their kids from those who are different, racially, socially, and/or morally.

Those making decisions about schools must recognize the importance of educating our children. Parents must make their child’s education a priority. Education isn’t just facts, but it’s also how to get along with people who are different from you. The pandemic pods idea might work if they contain heterogeneous student populations supported by tax money and available equally to all. Allowing parents to segregate children to free themselves from the responsibility of educating them is not an answer.

For those who choose homeschooling, the Does God Exist? ministry has materials that can be helpful in areas of faith and science. Through the years, many homeschoolers have used our video series, which is available to watch free on DoesGodExist.tv or to purchase at THIS LINK. Also, our website DoesGodExist.org has various links and mail-in courses. For science, our Facebook page has daily postings telling about various animals and plants.

— John N. Claton © 2020

Reference: The Week magazine for August 7, 2020

What Is Christ?

What Is Christ?

People in Christ’s day did not understand what Christ was. The same is true today. Jesus himself highlighted this issue when He asked his disciples, “Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?” (Matthew 16:13). The disciples gave the same kind of answers that we see people giving today. One response was that Christ was a mystic ghost. In this case, they thought He was the ghost or resurrected form of John the Baptist. (See Matthew 14:2.) Some said Christ was the resurrected prophet Elijah who had come to lead Israel. (See Malachi 4:5.) Today we have people claiming that Jesus appeared to them in a ghost-like visit. Who or what is Christ?

After hearing what others were saying, Jesus asked His disciples, “But whom do YOU say that I am?” Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus responded by saying that God Himself revealed it to Peter (Verse 17). John 1:1-14 spells this out as clearly as humans can comprehend. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” “Word” in Greek is “Logos” and refers to the person of God.

The one “Godhead” is made up of three persons—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the intellect of God, seen in wisdom and design (See Proverbs 8 and Romans 1:20.) In Jesus, we see the personality of God called the Logos by John. The message of John 1:14 is not that a man became God, but that God became a man. Colossians 1:16 says concerning Christ that “all things were created by Him, and for Him.” When Jesus spoke, He spoke the words of God.

In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said: “Come unto me all you that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me for I am meek and lowly in heart and you shall find rest unto your souls, for my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Is being a Christian always easy physically? How many times was Paul beaten? What happened to Stephen? We, too, have a terrible physical battle to maintain our faith. Jesus is not talking about physical burdens but the peace, confidence, freedom, security, and joy that comes from being in Christ. It is a tragedy that some preachers make the burden hard by adding a bunch of human requirements to the yoke of Jesus.

Jesus was God in the flesh. That flesh died on the cross, but you can’t kill the Logos. Jesus was not just a good man or a myth or a ghost. What is Christ? He is God.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

What Is Truth Today?

What Is Truth, Anyway?

Jesus told Pilate that everyone who follows the way of truth listens to His voice. Pilate replied, “What is truth?” That was a rhetorical question. He said it because he didn’t think there was such a thing as ultimate truth, and his worldview was like that of many moderns. What is truth today? “Truth is what you make it.” “Your truth is not my truth.” “I don’t believe anyone has ultimate truth.”

In today’s world, people are confused by many contradictory “truths” presented by politicians, religious leaders, and social media. It is amazing how two people can look at the same fact and reach opposite conclusions. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the tomb, He told His disciples that He would soon be crucified. Jesus said, “Now my soul is troubled. What should I say—Father, save me from this hour? But that is why I came to this hour. Father, glorify our name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.” (See John 12:27-29.) The crowd of people who heard it reached different conclusions. Some said it was thunder, and some said it was the voice of an angel. When Peter and the apostles spoke to the crowd on the day of Pentecost, some said they were drunk while others repented of the grave injustice they had done to Jesus. (See Acts 2:5-13, 38-41.)

It has always been possible for people to reach completely different conclusions while looking at the same evidence. In our posts and publications, we often show design in living things, on planet Earth, and in the universe. We see that design as evidence of a Designer. Others see it as a pattern of accidental coincidence created by random chance. Paul said we can know there is a God by the things He has made. (See Romans 1:20.) He explained the inability of many to see that truth by saying, “In their case, the god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers…” (2 Corinthians 4:4).

What is truth today, and why is it often difficult to tell from lies? Experience has shown that when a lie is told repeatedly and often, people will eventually believe it. In our post-modern age, we have social media spreading lies. We also have “fact checkers” who have their own agendas and biases, which slant the way they look at “What is truth?” It can be hard to know whom to believe.

The term “fake news” has entered our vocabulary in a big way. We have seen news reports of “peaceful protests” while behind the reporter, fires are burning. In cases like that, we can see that the facts don’t fit the description. However, modern technology has created ways to fool our senses. We have posted examples of various kinds of fakery HERE, HERE, HERE, and HERE.

The fakery is only getting worse to the point where we can’t always believe our eyes and ears. Artificial intelligence has made it possible to create very convincing fake videos. You won’t believe your eyes if you watch THIS FAKE VIDEO of president Richard Nixon eulogizing the Apollo astronauts who died on the Moon. Of course, we remember that it did not happen, but the video can almost bring tears to your eyes. The creators of this fantastic fake video were not trying to fool us but to show us how dangerous video fakery has become.

So what is truth today? Jesus is truth. The Bible is truth. The point we are making is that we must be skeptical when it comes to history or politics, or religion. Make sure your sources for faith topics are reliable and test them against God’s word. Fake news can be dangerous, but false religious teaching is the most dangerous of all.

— Roland Earnst © 2020

God of Hope in Troubled Times

God of Hope in Troubled Times

We live in a time of chaos and uncertainty. One of the things that make humans different from all other living things on this planet is that we require hope. Animals do not require hope to be in a state of good health. They live moment-by-moment as long as their immediate needs are met. If an animal has food, shelter, and perhaps companionship, they need nothing else. Humans are different; we wither away in the absence of hope. Christians receive that from the God of hope.

Catherine Madera describes why we need hope: “Hope connects us to the future and prevents us from becoming stuck in past history or present challenges. It projects out, like a beam of light, illuminating things on the horizon to look forward to. Hope is defined as a feeling of trust and expectation, a desire for a certain thing to happen.”
(From Guideposts Strength and Grace, August/September 2020, page 58)

Romans 15:13 says, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Even with discouragement, depression, illness, loss, frustration, and failure, we can trust in God and that His Spirit will eventually work things out for our good (Romans 8:28).

God doesn’t just give hope; He is the God of hope. This is one of the great blessings of being a Christian. We can always have hope that answers will come, and having that hope gives us a measure of joy, peace, and contentment–even in troubled times like these.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Doing What Jesus Told Us To

Doing What Jesus Told Us To - Food Banks

I sometimes get a heated letter, email, or phone call chastising me for advocating something that isn’t possible or safe. I can understand the concerns, and yet it is hard to miss the clear teaching of Matthew 25:35-40. How can we do we what Jesus told us to do? The fact is that it is safer and easier to do those things today than when Jesus spoke these words. The examples of the first century Church in Acts 2:44-47, of Dorcas in Acts 9:36-39, and of Lydia in Acts 16:13-15 give us clues as to how we can be doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 25.

HUNGERED AND YOU GAVE ME MEAT. Every major city in America has a food bank, operated by Christians, that needs volunteers and donations.

THIRSTY AND YOU GAVE ME DRINK. There are Christian groups like “Healing Hands” drilling wells and putting in water purification systems in areas without clean water. They need help and donations.

A STRANGER AND YOU TOOK ME IN. Churches near major hospitals such as Hands of Compassion near the Mayo Clinic provide housing and help strangers–and they need support.

NAKED AND YOU CLOTHED ME. Programs like “Coats for Kids” are operated by churches in nearly every major city in America. Finding and distributing coats to needy people is always a work that needs help.

SICK AND YOU VISITED ME. Visitation programs to hospitals are operated by groups of Christians and local congregations in every hospital in America. Hospital chaplains can integrate workers into visitation programs.

IN PRISON AND YOU CAME TO ME. There are prison ministries in virtually every prison in America and national correspondence programs like ours that offer programs free of charge to anyone who is incarcerated.

I get frustrated with the fact that my mailbox is stuffed every day with requests for help in works like these. Then I think about the fact that Christians do what most people in this world won’t do, and that is doing what Jesus told us to do in Matthew 25. If you can’t find any of these things close to where you live, we can help you find a national and/or local group where you can serve.

In the first century, Christians did most of what Jesus calls us to do on their own. Today we can support groups that others have created to serve. The next time someone asks you to get involved in a faith-based opportunity to serve others, don’t be irritated. Be thankful that Christ continues to call His followers to do good works.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

How Christians Should Deal with Politics

How Christians Should Deal with Politics

I have seen many national elections, and I have seen some loud arguments among people who share the same religious or skeptical views. Many years ago, two of my atheist friends got into a fight over a political issue that put both of them in the emergency room. I have also seen religious people want to disfellowship someone for supporting a presidential candidate who favored abortion. Certainly, the current election has polarized our culture more than any other in recent years. With increasing frequency, my mailbox has received inquiries about, “How should a Christian vote?” The broader issue is how Christians should deal with politics.

Let me first of lay down some facts historically and biblically:

*Jesus and the scriptures give us no command to get involved in politics, and no condemnation if we do so.
*There is a need for political authority. See Judges 17:6 for the alternative.
*The scriptures tell us to obey political authority. Romans 13:1-7 and Titus 3:1 make that clear, even though the government of that time was corrupt, immoral, and violent, Christians used political authority for their well being. See Acts 23:23-35.
*Political leaders aren’t always evil or corrupt. See Luke 7:3-10. 23:50-53. John 3:1-10 and 19:39 and Acts 10:1 for examples.


We can see the answer to how Christians should deal with politics in Matthew 22:15-21, where Pharisees asked Jesus if it was lawful to pay taxes to the Roman government. The question was a trap. If He said “no,” He could be put in prison for defying Caesar. If He said “yes,” He would violate Jewish tradition and law. Jesus answered by giving us in a single sentence how Christians should deal with politics: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s and to God the things that are God’s.”

Like people today, the people who asked the question did not understand what Christianity is about. Later in the same chapter, they ask a question about who a man would be married to in heaven when he had more than one wife on Earth. Jesus responded by saying, “You don’t know the scriptures”!

The point of Christ’s teaching is that God is concerned with the spiritual, and politics is concerned with the physical. Ephesian 6:12 tells us that our struggle is not flesh and blood. Christians must be good citizens by obeying the law and honoring our leaders. We are not to bring politics into the Church, nor is the Church to engage in political work. If you want to be involved in politics, do so. Don’t demand the Church to endorse you or to constrain its members to vote for you. Church funds should not be used for political purposes. Read Matthew 25:31-46 to see what the Lord’s money should be used for.

I am an American, a veteran, and a believer in democracy. Those are physical things I support. More importantly, I am a Christian and am in a war with Satan and evil. Ephesians 6:12-18 defines my spiritual emphasis, and Ephesians 3:9-11 reminds me that this battle has been going on since before creation. I will vote and express myself in physical matters for America. However, I will spend most of my energy and time on the more important work of spreading the gospel and doing the work of Jesus Christ.

— John N. Clayton © 2020

Growing Up in a Divided Society

Growing Up in a Divided Society

One part of my life’s history that I don’t talk about a lot is my experience with racial issues growing up in a divided society. As a child, I lived for several years in Alabama, where my father had his first college teaching job at Talladega State Teacher’s College. He and the school president were the only whites on the staff, and I was the only white kid in my school. All of my friends were black, and the people we knew in our daily lives were black. We never had a problem with anyone in that community.

When we left the campus area, we had problems. I remember when I had my tonsils removed. My mother had to take me to Birmingham to have it done. She told me later that when they brought me out of the operating room on a gurney, covered with blood, the doctor shoved the gurney at my mother and said, “Here nigger lover, you clean him up.”

We moved to McComb, Illinois, where my father got a job at Western Illinois University. When people learned that my father had taught at an all-black college and that I had attended an all-black school, we had all kinds of problems. The fact that I had spent grades 2, 3, and 4 in an all-black school meant to a lot of folks that I was inferior, and it was okay to beat me up. I tell you this to point out that now as a Christian and having had that experience, I can relate to the current struggles with prejudice and abuse in America.

Jesus dealt with similar issues throughout His life. John 4 tells us of His exchange with a Samaritan woman. Verse 9 says that the Jews avoided and rejected the Samaritans because they were of mixed race and had different religious beliefs. She was a woman, married five times, and living with a guy she wasn’t married to. Jesus addressed her needs and taught her. In Luke 8:26-39, Jesus showed compassion to a man who was severely mentally ill. The crucifixion of Christ happened because people had the same willful blindness that permeates our society today. The people who welcomed Him to Jerusalem in Matthew 21:7-11, crucified Him in Matthew 27:22-25.

The early Church faced massive persecution. In Acts 6:8-14, a man named Stephen was doing great things in the community. In Acts 7:54-60, the community stopped their ears and stoned him to death when he stated religious facts they didn’t want to hear. Christians are still being persecuted today. Racial prejudice still survives today. Children are still growing up in a divided society. We must replace hatred and division with love and service. That’s the only way our world can survive. If Christians don’t lead in this vital matter, who will?

— John N. Clayton 2020